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Shepherd to host College Goal program

By Staff | Feb 18, 2010

The first West Virginia College Goal Sunday will take place this weekend, and the event is designed to help prospective students tackle the often complex financial aid application process.

The event will be hosted at 17 sites around West Virginia, including Shepherd University from 1 to 5 p.m. this Sunday.

Slated to be held at Shepherd University White Hall in rooms 204 and 209, the College Goal Sunday is an opportunity for students and parents to have financial aid experts provide free assistance in filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, the cornerstone of the higher education financial aid application process.

According to Angela Holley, statewide coordinator for the program, the FAFSA is a crucial first step for all college students who plan to pay for college with the help of grants, scholarships, work-study funds and/or student loans.

College Goal Sunday was created by the Indiana Student Financial Aid Association with funding from the Lilly Endowment Inc. and supplemental support from the Lumina Foundation for Education.

Holley said that the grant writing process necessary to establish the nationwide program began about two years ago.

“We all sat down at the table together as a team, along with some other interested parties, to plan how to take this event and make it a success in our state,” Holley said. “Although it’s been in effect throughout the country for several years, this is the first time it’s occurring in West Virginia.”

It really came out of a desire to see more students get access to the financial aid available to them, she said.

“The federal government has worked very hard to simplify the overall financial aid process,” she said. “Since it does change for year to year, families may find this time can be an intimidating process and that can be barrier.”

Holley said officials want to “remove that barrier.” “We have some great experts throughout the various colleges to assist and walk people through that process, so people are getting assistance from folks who work with us every day and who know the answers to the tough questions,” she said.

Individuals who plan to attend college and would like help with completion of the FAFSA or would like answers regarding general financial aid questions are encouraged to attend.

Also, interested students and parents are asked to bring their Social Security numbers, 2009 Federal Tax Return, W-2, other income records, driver’s license and other valid ID to the session.

Holley advised that the more income information that families can provide, the more likely they will be able to submit their FAFSA on the day of the event.

All information shared is protected by privacy laws.

She said it’s important to note that those who do not yet have their federal taxes done can still attend and participate in the event.

“Obviously, if they do have them done, that’s great but it’s not absolutely necessary,” she said. “It is, however, critical that they do that prior to March 1, particularly if they’re interested in the Promise Scholarship.”

Free refreshments and giveaways will be available at the event.

This year’s efforts in West Virginia are coordinated by the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, the West Virginia TRiO Association and the West Virginia Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators with funding by a grant from the Lumina Foundation.

More information about College Goal Sunday and specific time and site information is available at www.collegegoalsundaywv.org.

The site coordinator for Sunday’s event is Autumn Perry, who can be reached at (304) 876-5725, or aperry@hepc.wvnet.edu.